When it comes to fat loss, there is no shortage of magic pills and snake oil supplements to “blast the fat” right from your body. While the promise of an easy fix solution sounds enticing, weight loss isn’t an overnight process. If you really want to know how to lose body fat, the answer is simple: Work hard, eat right and add some fat-burning exercises into your daily routine.
But aside from the obvious option, there’s actually a tonne of small changes you can make that will help you lose fat. Some are lifestyle, some are dietary, and some are so left-field you probably didn’t think of them. In reality, the best way to burn fat fast is the motivation to make a change and stick to it. “If you’re really struggling, or confused by nutrition misinformation on social media, check in with an accredited practising dietitian,” suggests personal trainer Sam Downing.
So to give you some tips on how to lose body fat, we’ve put together a list of 13 tried, tested, and proven ways you can burn fat.
1. Strength Training
If you want to lose fat, why not gain muscle at the same time? While it’s a myth that fat can be converted directly into muscle (or vice-versa), strength training has been shown to shed body fat — even without cardio or dieting. So if you are wondering how to lose fat, it’s worth giving weights a go.
2. Eat a High-Protein Diet
You may think high-protein diets are just for strongmen and bodybuilders, but it turns out this diet is extremely beneficial for anyone looking to tone up. Researchers from the University of South Australia have found that a high protein diet results in a greater loss of body fat than that of standard protein, lower carb diets (at least in a study of diabetic people).
To eat a high-protein diet, you should aim to eat 1.6g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day, and vary the sources you consume this protein from.
3. Get More Sleep
If you really want to cut down the gut, just sleep it off. A 2006 study on sleep duration and body mass found that people who got 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night were two times more likely to succeed with their weight loss program than those who were sleeping less.
A common reason for disturbed sleep these days is blue light. Emitted from your phone and devices, blue light disrupts the sleep hormones of your body and delays your sleep cycle. The best way to combat this is to put your phone down an hour before bed and wear blue-light glasses at night.
4. Up Your Cardio
There’s a reason so many group fitness gyms are popping up – cardio is king for those looking to lower body fat percentage. Whether you choose running, yoga, cycling, or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), cardio has so many benefits for your health, especially your waistline.
But remember, you can’t outrun a bad diet, so don’t compensate for physical activity with more food. Instead, work out how many calories you should be eating per day (for the average adult, it’s about 2000), and supplement this number with cardio exercise to help you lose fat.
5. Eat Healthy Fats
It may sound counter-intuitive, but eating fat can help you burn fat. Fats have got a bad name in recent times, but in reality, they are essential for a healthy diet and weight loss. Healthy fats like omega 3’s and 6’s, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your waistline. The best sources of healthy fats include fish, nuts, eggs, olive oil, and avocado.
6. Drink Better
No, we’re not talking about giving up alcohol. We just mean that, in general, be more conscious about the things you drink. You may not realise it, but flavoured drinks still contain calories and they are predominantly sugars. We call these kinds of calories “empty calories” because they rarely offer any real nutritional benefit for their caloric density. The biggest offenders are soft drinks, flavoured milks, and energy drinks. Have them occasionally if you do enjoy them, but be sure to prioritise healthy drinks and water as your go-tos.
7. Fill Up On Fibre
Fibre is often overlooked when it comes to fat loss, but soluble fibre has repeatedly been shown to be beneficial to those looking to tone up. Soluble fibre is key to a healthy gut biome and promotes fat loss by acting as an appetite suppressant. Not just that, but a recent clinical study in the US showed that increasing your fibre intake can have as positive an effect on fat loss as any other more complex dietary change.
To ensure you are getting enough in your diet, men should aim to eat 30g of fibre per day. Good sources of fibre include wholegrain bread and rice, fruit, nuts and vegetables.
8. Cut Down on Refined Carbs
Refined carbs are foods that have been heavily processed. During the processing, much of the fibre and nutrients is removed and we’re left with “empty carbs”. Foods high in refined carbs include sugary foods, fast food, white bread, soft drinks…we think you get the picture.
The thing with refined carbs, however, is that the body uses them much quicker than unrefined carbs. As a result, refined carbs create a short burst of energy rather than a slow-release like other foods. Because of this, they’re less filling and you’ll be hungrier quicker, leading to overeating and weight gain. If you’re trying to lose fat, avoid processed foods and opt for more filling whole foods.
9. Drink Coffee
In all honesty, coffee is a super drink. Great for your brain and alertness, it also has a positive effect on your waistline. This is because coffee itself actually contains 0 calories, so you can drink as much as you like without it contributing to weight gain (not literally, of course — caffeine intake of less than 400mg per day is considered safe). Be careful of milk, sweeteners and sugar though, as these do contain calories.
When it comes to coffee, the real reason it’s good for fat loss is the caffeine. Caffeine has been well studied and has been shown to raise your metabolism, increase the oxidation of fatty cells, and increase your exercise performance, which leads to greater exertion and calories burnt. You could argue that coffee is nature’s best fat burner.
10. Do Some HIIT
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and it’s all the rage at the minute. F45, Crossfit, and other group fitness classes are all HIIT activities and understandably so. The workouts are loaded with fat burning exercises designed to raise your metabolism and increase your propensity for fat loss.
The reason HIIT training is so beneficial for weight loss is that the constant variations in intensity and activity boost your heart rate and your metabolism long after the fat-burning workout finishes. With the ease at which you can elevate your heart rate, HIIT training remains one of the quickest ways to lose fat.
11. Eat Some Probiotics
Probiotics are different types of living bacteria that are great for your digestive health. The importance of gut health cannot be understated, with scientists basically labelling the gut as the body’s second brain. It has the huge task of turning the things you consume into cells, energy, and everything you need to function. Probiotics help your gut perform better, so they’re an important part of a healthy diet.
Certain probiotics have also shown promising effects on fat loss. One of these probiotics, Lactobacillus gasseri, was found to target belly fat specifically in one study, and has favourable anti-obesity effects. The best sources of probiotics are yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, and supplements.
12. Increase Your Iron Intake
Iron is an essential vitamin that helps the body convert nutrients into energy. It also helps to deliver oxygen to your cells, which is why those with iron deficiency can feel light-headed and tired – they aren’t getting enough oxygen and red blood cells throughout their body.
When it comes to fat loss, the more oxygen you can get to your cells the more fat oxidation can take place and the more fatty acid you can break down. Since iron helps your body do this, it’s important to ensure you are getting enough iron in your diet to help this process. The best sources of iron are lean meats, beans, shellfish, and spinach.
13. Try Intermittent Fasting
We’re big fans of time-restricted eating – because it works. Intermittent fasting induces a hormonal response in your body that facilitates a fat burning response. When you restrict your eating time, your blood insulin levels drop significantly. When this happens, your cells find it more difficult to take up glucose as energy, so they use an alternative fuel – fat!
Not just that, but short term fasting also causes a metabolic increase of up to 14 per cent, meaning you’ll continue to burn more calories throughout the day. The most popular methods of fasting are eating in an 8 or 10 hour window. Our go-to eating window is 11am-7pm, so all you’re really missing is breakfast.
How can I lose weight?
The best way to lose weight is a combination of lifestyle changes, physical activity, and dietary changes. Ensuring you get active for at least 30 minutes per day and eating a diet that prioritises whole foods will help you to lose weight.
What should I cut out of my diet to lose weight?
The most important thing to cut out of your diet to lose weight is refined carbs. Refined carbs are foods that have been heavily processed and lose much of their nutrients as a result. Foods high in refined carbs include sugary foods, fast food, white bread, and soft drinks.
Does intermittent fasting work?
Yes! Intermittent fasting induces a hormonal response in your body that facilitates a fat burning response. When you restrict your eating time, your blood insulin levels drop significantly. When this happens, your cells find it more difficult to take up glucose as energy, so they use an alternative fuel – fat!
Last medically reviewed on 7 July 2022